MOTORISTS have spotted average speed cameras going up on a busy stretch of the A1 - and the reason for it has been revealed.

Fixed to the end of large yellow posts, several average speed cameras have been added between Junction 65, Birtley and Junction 67, the Coal House roundabout.

The stretch of road, which links traffic from Chester-le-Street and Washington with the Team Valley, Metrocentre, Newcastle and beyond, has been a 50 limit for several years.

Until now, this reduced speed limit has only been enforced by mobile speed camera units and patrolling police.

But when they go live - which is expected to be in the coming weeks - they will be responsible for catching those flouting the rules, 24 hours a day.

Highways England has explained why the cameras have been installed, while the area's police force has urged motorists to continue sticking to the speed limit.

The Northern Echo: The average speed cameras have been set up near Birtley in Gateshead Picture: SARAH CALDECOTTThe average speed cameras have been set up near Birtley in Gateshead Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT

Highways England, who are installing the cameras between Junction 65 and Junction 67, said this is happening ahead of a £220m major upgrade to this stretch of the A1.

Set to last until 2024, this part of the A1 is known for severe congestion at peak times as cars bottleneck at the points where the number of lanes change.

As a result, the brunt of the work will involve the widening of the carriageway and additional lane added in both directions.

It also means the northbound carriageway will be increased to three lanes, and the southbound carriageway to four.

Nicola Wilkes, project manager at Highways England, said: “Safety is of paramount importance to Highways England and as part of the forthcoming £220m upgrade to the A1 between Birtley and Coal House average speed cameras are in the process of being installed to keep road users and roadworkers safe as the scheme progresses.

“After the cameras are fully installed and calibrated we will work closely with Northumbria Police, who carry out enforcement, to agree when this will begin.”

The Northern Echo: The work will see additional lanes created along the stretch of road Picture: SARAH CALDECOTTThe work will see additional lanes created along the stretch of road Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT

Reminding motorists to keep to the limit, Northumbria Police said the average speed cameras will act as a deterrent to those speeding as work gets underway.

A force spokesperson said: “Speed limits are in place for a reason and speed cameras are just one of many deterrents to ensure motorists are not driving above the limit.

“We will continue to work closely with Highways England to improve road safety across our Force area."

See the stretch of road where average speed cameras will apply

How average speed cameras work

These are one of the more known cameras, often installed where roadworks are taking place such as the A19 at Testo's Junction and further up the A1 past the Metrocentre.

They work by recording your speed at different points along the section of road, then they calculate your average speed.

It means motorists who try to slow down before they see a camera, then speed up again run the risk of being caught as speeds are not caught with a single flash.

According to the AA, some motorists believe that changing lanes confuses the average speed lane calculations, but it states that this is not true.

Instead, it says average speed cameras can now use multiple sets of cameras at each point to track all lanes and compare average speeds.

Currently, the minimum penalty for speeding is a £100 fine and three penalty points added to your licence.